One of Carlo’s Dilemmas (c)

A routine task turns somewhat hazardous – a short story

Carlo, Bastian, and Jamie—Italian, German, and American—cramped into a pickup truck. Actually, only Jamie had to cramp. Carlo,dawning a white beard and a face chiseled by time, was comfortable enough in the driver seat, with plenty of space behind the wheel; Bastian, having a healthy belly, would not fit in the back, so had to occupy the front passenger seat. And Jamie, cursed with having practiced yoga in previous endeavors, lean and flexible, knees by his chin, crunched himself onto a metal plate behind the front two. This metal did not qualify as a back seat; but, regardless of labels, there were a couple of blankets to act as cushions. To Jamie’s left were two large metal jugs, and a third was moved for Bastian to hold and make room for Jamie.

These three characters were on a mission to deliver olives to a press, and to return to a farm with those three metal jugs filled with olive oil. They had filled the back of the pickup with deep deep purple olives, products of their hard work harvesting the farm’s olive trees. All one thousand seven hundred pounds of olives rested on and in the pickup’s back.

Carlo called the pickup Horse. Sadly it was far from being a horse, or a mule for that matter.

Horse trudged on a white gravel path downhill, turned left and right, away from the farm, toward Fiona—the village on a mountain where the olive press was. Down the Horse rolled until it reached a fork and had to turn right, and then up. Unfortunately for it, it was a steep and long ‘up’, more so with the olives and the three men. It slowed a bit; Carlo changed gears, and the engine roared, and roared. It was going to be a battle, while everything and everyone in it stayed put waiting to reach the top of the turn.

“Something is wrong,” Carlo yelled. “It’s not moving. It should be moving.”

That was not fair. Granted it was moving slowly, but it was moving.

“You smell? You smell this smell?” Carlo again, referring to some rubbery fumes.

Horse was clearly not happy. Smoke was escaping from under the hood, and Carlo shifted again.

“Why it won’t go? Something is wrong.”

Bastian and Jamie watched, helpless.

“Maybe clutch is bad.” It was Bastian, perhaps trying to be helpful, likely more helpful than Jamie sitting in the back and almost laughing.

There was some humor in the situation.

It was dark by then, thanks to Daylight Savings.

Can we push this thing? Jamie wondered to himself. Not likely, not with the load of olives.

What could he do?


So he started praying, and wishing that Horse would make it. He started sending ‘positive energy’ to its… ahhh… heart. Please,Horse, please, you can do this. He wanted to meditate, thinking maybe that could help, but the noise and the laughter in his head would not allow it.

Horse continued to roar and smoke, rolling one inch at a time over the white gravel. Carlo kept hitting the steering wheel and yelling, “C’mon,c’mon…” and “something is wrong…”

Eventually Horse reached the top of this one turn. The problem was that that reprieve was temporary, for there were more turns and more ups, a bunch more, before reaching the press.

There was a happy ending to this part of their ride. They reached their destination with lots of smoke and lots of burning rubber, but a win is a win. They emptied the back and dumped all the olives onto a giant scale, and a couple of hours later managed to fill all three metal jugs with olive oil. The next problem, however, was getting back to the farm with the oil, for all that downhill at the beginning of their ride was now going to be up up up.